In the event of a crash, the smallest and youngest passengers may need extra help communicating vital information to emergency personnel – information particularly important if accompanying adult guardians are injured or killed.
A simple WHALE sticker affixed to a vehicle window can guide firefighters, police and paramedics to information mounted on the back of a child’s car seat giving the child’s name, medical condition and ways to contact next-of-kin and doctor.
WHALE - an acronym for We Have a Little Emergency - is a child car safety seat occupant identification program that was started in the early 1990s by a child caregiver on the East Coast and further developed on a national basis by Swedish Medical Center and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
Connie Day wondered what would happen to the children in her care in the event of a car crash. Who would identify them? How would their parents be notified? How would medical personnel know a child’s medical needs?
Out of those concerns, she conceived the WHALE program which is recognized and used by emergency personnel in 34 states, including Idaho, beginning in 2004.
“Young children are comforted after a crash when a rescue worker knows a child’s name,” said Margaret Goertz with ITD’s Office of Highway Operations and Safety.
She added that children don’t travel just with parents or guardians. They may ride with grandparents, babysitters, neighbors or other caregivers.
“Everyone who transports young children should have this information attached to child safety seats,” Goertz said.
Last year, more than 4,300 WHALE identification kits were distributed statewide.
WHALE identification kits are available free to parents and caregivers at some of Idaho’s emergency medical service providers, hospitals, fire departments and local law enforcement agencies or by contacting Goertz at (208) 334-8104 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org .